Weight Gain Ferd-Thousand (Pandemic Edition)

When the Coronavirus pandemic first began we were all forced to stay in our homes. Throughout year one everyone was talking about being lazy and gaining weight from all the snacking. I remember hearing Emily V Gordon say, “When we get out of this we’re all gonna be a little fatter,” on her and Kumail Nanjiani’s pandemic podcast, Staying In with Emily & Kuamil.

In the beginning of the lockdown I was still eating whatever I wanted, but due to no improv shows I didn’t have to eat dinner at midnight or one in the morning any longer. Before this all started I had a very strange eating schedule from Wednesday to Saturday, where I wouldn’t eat a full dinner before rehearsal or shows and instead would wait until I was done for the night. Also, the only food available after 11 pm or later is usually not very healthy.

At that time, with all of the late night eats I was still able to stay at a consistent weight of about 210-215. I was doing enough activity that it was fine for me to be eating so late at night. Probably not on the inside, but I looked fine on the outside.

So, when the lockdown started I was no longer eating my late night snacks/full meals (plus a late night beer or two). I was on a more regular eating schedule. I started to lose weight. Also, I was working out a lot more: running, boxing, swimming weights and anything I could do on my own outdoors or in the backyard.

Around the summertime I started eating a little more healthy, but kept working out like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Maybe not as hard as Dwyane, maybe like 25% of what he does, but that’s still a lot for a regular human. I even started losing weight.

When I saw the number on the scale going down slowly I thought of a new plan. I thought this is going to be funny, when we get back to shows in “a few months” — it’s now been over a year — everyone will be talking about how they gained weight and I’ll be that one dude that looks better than before. I wanted to be like people on sitcoms that come back in a later season looking thinner, stronger and younger than they ever have.

This plan was working. I made it down to under 200 lbs for the first time since I lived in Orlando, back in 2014-2015. I was dropping weight quickly and getting stronger with mostly boxing, running and some light weight training.

Let’s take a short break to check out my
Pandemic Workout Selfie Album:

But then something happened — the holidays. The pandemic was taking way too long to clear up. It’s still clearing up. I started working on side projects (blogs/sites) that took away from my workout time. I grew bored of working out so much, and I started eating more and more [Oreos and junk].

At some point during the pandemic I decided it was totally fine to eat cookies, chocolate, ice cream and desserts with breakfast. Sometimes I would eat these before breakfast. I’d eat them while cooking breakfast. And I’m still doing that.

My weight started to climb, because let’s face it — It’s much easier to gain weight than to lose weight. I bet Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) has to lose weight for many roles, but it must have been a fun time to gain weight for Avengers: Endgame (even though that’s probably a fat suit). Christian Bale has done both for roles and I bet gaining weight (American Hustle) was a much better time than losing weight (the Machinist).

In the beginning of 2021 I reached my highest weight in years, possibly ever. This sucked after reaching my lowest weight just a few months earlier (mid to late 2020).

Since learning about this massive weight gain I started working out again. I’m not at 25% Rock output yet, but I hope to get back there soon (maybe higher than that). I’ve tried a few things to get me to stop eating so much cookies and chocolate and sugar, but it’s hard during a 1+ year long pandemic.

I still haven’t seen most of the world yet, so there’s still a chance of me getting back to where I was when this whole thing began. I guess that’s my goal for now. Get to where I started — around 210-215. After that I’ll go for under 200 once again.

It’s not as funny to hear people say, “Wow, you look the same” as it would have been to have them say, “How did you look even better than you did in March 2020?”

I definitely need to go down in weight before the late night eating returns. Perhaps I can change that habit too. I can just get rid of the late night eating altogether. Either way, I’m going back down and I’m going to keep working out, before I see you all in 2021 — or 2022.

YOU LOOK GREAT!

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I recently learned that anytime someone tells me I look like I’ve lost weight, or any compliments about my body, I end up using that information as a reason to eat whatever I want. This usually happens when I’m dressed nice for a wedding or a fancy event. I think fancy clothes makes me look better than I normally look, but I will stick to my normal clothes because I will always choose comfort over fashion (if it’s cold enough I will wear my fancy sweatpants to your fancy party).

I received multiple compliments on looking “skinnier” in 2019 (before the holidays), although I’m pretty sure I was stuck at around the same weight for most of the year. I haven’t been eating lots of fast food lately, but I also haven’t been eating that much “healthy” food either. I’ve struck a balance of good and bad food choices and enough exercise to stay at my current weight.

Of course, when a few people told me I looked good at a wedding, I decided to visit Burger King on my way home. There was pizza, garlic rolls, pasta, cake and a full-service ice cream bar at the wedding (which I totally ate), however I still found the need to get some BK, way later in the evening. I did eat all of those things pretty early, and by the time I went to BK it was already tomorrow (past midnight). I’m pretty sure I had only eaten two meals that day before BK — (1) a late breakfast and (2) the pizza, ice cream bar and all of those other goodies. So, I still kept it to the traditional three meals in a day.

The last few times I ate fast food, I was “forced” to by outside circumstances: (1) I went to a late movie and the concessions were closed when I got there, cancelling my popcorn and Buncha Crunch dinner. This left me starving when I got out of the movie, which led to a stop at Wendy’s. (2) We drove to Disney for Food & Wine and Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge for one day, after about 8 hours of driving and 10 hours of food, wine and traveling the world (plus, going off-planet) I had to stop for some Taco Bell on my way home. (3) At that wedding where three to four people (who hadn’t seen me in a while, so maybe they forgot what I looked like) told me I looked like I had lost weight, so I stopped at Burger King on my way home.

Maybe it’s a self-sabotage thing, or maybe my brain doesn’t enjoy compliments. I’m not really sure what it is, but for 2020 I’m going to try to make better choices when it comes to food late at night. Instead of eating fried chicken or pizza at midnight, I can try a soup instead, maybe even a salad (No one has ever chosen to eat a salad past midnight, and I don’t think I will be the first person to). 

I can’t make the right choice every time of course, because once it’s that late and you haven’t eaten dinner, the only thing you want to eat is the most unhealthy thing you can find on the menu. Tacos are an acceptable late night food choice, you get your veggies and meats and sometimes some cheese, too. Breakfast food late at night is also a good choice, that way you can skip breakfast in the morning since you had it before bed.

So, please stop telling me I look like I’ve lost weight or it will be your fault when I end up in the drive-thru line at Taco Bell later on that night.

WHAT I LEARNED DURING WHOLE30 (PART I OF III)

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Last month, I took part in the Whole30. Many of you already know this because I posted everything I ate during the Whole30 online. If you didn’t know or have no idea what the Whole30 is here is my short description.

Whole30 = No added sugars in your diet. You eat meat, fish or eggs for protein. A whole bunch of veggies. Also, some fruits for natural sugars. Nuts, oils, ghee and other natural fats. Every meal should consist of these things. (No dairy, legumes, grains or non-gluten grains included).

After thirty days I had lost about fifteen pounds. The problem was once I finished my Whole30 I did one week (instead of two weeks) of reintroducing non-compliant foods: Beans/Legumes, Corn/Non-Gluten Grains, Dairy and Gluten/Grains. After that I went full rage mode and ate all the things I wasn’t able to eat during the Whole30: Pizza (twice), Burgers, Ice Cream, Cake, Cookies, Chips, Cheese, Tacos and everything else. I think I re-gained about five of those fifteen pounds. (It is now two weeks later, and I’ve slowed down on full rage mode. I weighed myself and was back where I was on Day 30).

Now, I’m hoping to find a healthy balance of Whole30-ish eating and my regular diet. The point of Whole30 is to eat using basic ingredients to reset your body, next you reintroduce the “non-compliant” foods to see how they affect you. You are basically turning your body into a walking science experiment (Whole30 made me a scientist!). Once you’re done, you may continue to eat whatever foods make you feel good, but no one is perfect so you also eat the foods that don’t make you feel good from time to time.

So, what did I learn during my Whole30?

[1] I DON’T HAVE A “SUGAR DRAGON” IN ME. I HAVE A SUGAR DEMON!

Melissa Hartwig, creator of Whole30, talks about our “Sugar Dragon” a whole lot in her books and on her website. The “Sugar Dragon” is basically when you eat something sugary, your brain wants more and more sugar until there is nothing left in the house. It’s a whirling dervish of sugary delights.

I was extremely strict and faithful to Whole30, not eating any added sugar during the month of April. All the sugar in my diet came from fruits, and I didn’t have many cravings other than “Sugar Nightmares” (on a few nights I dreamt that I was eating sweet treats and other non-compliant foods. In one of my “Sugar Nightmares” I ate a whole pizza from Papa Johns). However, once April was over and I did finally eat sugar I went back to full-rage mode a few times. But since then I’ve calmed down a bit.

Once I eat one Oreo cookie, the rest of the Oreo cookies aren’t safe. I will eat all the Oreos I can find (or at least one row at a time). And once they are all gone I will move on to the next sugary treat until nothing remains. And that is why my SUGAR DRAGON is actually a SUGAR DEMON.

[2] NO TV BEFORE BED, BUT YES TV WHILE EATING.

Some Whole30 habits you are encouraged to practice aren’t entirely diet related. In her Whole30 books, Melissa says don’t watch TV while eating. She wants you to enjoy each bite of your food. Eat slowly and kind of meditate while you eat. I do yoga and stretching for meditation and there are way too many TV shows on my list to not watch them while I eat. I even watched Ugly Delicious on Netflix (a pizza documentary with David Chang, while eating my Whole30 meals. I watched it three times in April).

Another Whole30 “rule” is no TV before bed. Before Whole30 I would leave my TV on until I fell asleep (That’s why the gods created sleep mode). This made it harder to fall asleep, and harder to wake up in the mornings. In the beginning of Whole30 I would even wake up with a headache, which I’m still not completely sure if that came from having the TV on at night or if it was my SUGAR DEMON telling me it needed sugar. One of Melissa’s tips is to read until you get tired. I started doing this most nights, and now I’m continuing that habit.

Reading before bed is like an even more natural form of Melatonin. I read until my eyes become heavy, then I turn off my lamp and fall asleep almost instantly. With the TV on it would take me much longer to fall asleep.

[3] SLEEP. A LOT.

The main problem I had was not sleeping enough. I always try to do too much before bed, whether it’s writing, drawing, reading, watching shows or trying to beat God of War. I end up getting into bed at eleven or midnight even though I’m trying to wake up at six or six-thirty to write or run. One thing I need to get better at is going to sleep early when I want to wake up early.

Melissa talks about “Tiger Blood” a whole lot (It’s something Charlie Sheen said in that interview where everyone thought he was a crazy person. I think his “Tiger Blood” came from cocaine and drugs, but Melissa’s version is when you’re eating super healthy so you feel awesome in your mind, body and soul). I don’t think I ever fully felt the effects of “Tiger Blood” and that’s probably because I didn’t sleep enough.

I did have way more energy throughout the day while eating Whole30. Before this I would eat sandwiches and bread-y things for lunch which would make me want to lay down after work. With Whole30 meals I would get home with enough energy for boxing, yoga, stretching, biking or some other activity.

[4] EVERYTHING HAS SUGAR IN IT.

During April I learned that everything has sugar in it. Every sauce, every frozen meal and most things you would order at a restaurant have some form of sugar or fake sugar in them. That’s why I had to cook about 98% of my meals from scratch, which I don’t really mind, because I enjoy cooking.

Even my Ice Breaker mints (and pretty much every type of mint or gum) were non-compliant with the Whole30, because they have some kind of “science sugar” in them. (A “science sugar” is something that’s made in a lab to sweeten foods without adding calories so people think it’s healthy. Coke Zero is full of science sugars that haven’t yet been discovered, and also probably contain tons of cancer and other diseases which we will find out about in the year 2020).

Thrive Market was a good place to find special Whole30 versions of sauces (Just make sure to cancel your subscription before you get charged the insane monthly fee. Also, they are real annoying about letting anyone cancel their membership. I had to chat with some dude who kept trying to throw in another free month, until I finally told him, JUST CANCEL IT MAN!).

It took me until week two to finally find a bacon with no added sugar. I had to go to Whole Foods in Downtown just to find some bacon. Early on, I found Prosciutto, Jamon Serrano and some other Italian and Spanish deli meats with no sugar or other non-compliant ingredients. The trick is to find deli meats that say, “ingredients: pork, sea salt.”

[5] FRUITS TASTE BETTER WHEN YOUR SUGAR DRAGON/DEMON IS ASLEEP.

In the Whole30 books I read that my taste buds would change from not being overwhelmed by all these sugary and processed foods. This is true and I know this because before the Whole30 I couldn’t eat a whole orange. The flavor was too strong and I could only handle about one slice. But now I love oranges, grapefruits, kiwis and tons of fruits I’ve never even tried before (I had only tried the artificial versions or flavors of most fruits. The fruits in my diet used to come from Starburst and Skittles).

Before Whole30 all of my dessert and sweet choices were all made with chocolate, peanut butter, nutella and milky/sugary goodness. I hope I will try more fruity sweets (or just straight fruits as dessert). Even just cooking some apples and pears in ghee (or clarified butter) with some cinnamon is a delicious (and nutritious) treat.

If you are someone who had Whole30 questions for me, I hope this helped. These are just some of the things I learned during my Whole30. My next post will be my TOP 5 Whole30 DISHES (recipes included) for people who are on the Whole30 or those who would like to test drive some recipes before committing to the program.